5 things to know about JW Marriott Bonnet Creek — the newest hotel near Disney
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The year 2020 wasn’t all bad in the world of travel. While the opening of the JW Marriott Bonnet Creek hotel was understandably delayed a bit during the spring months, the near-Disney hotel opened its doors in July 2020. On a recent trip to Disney World, we couldn’t resist the chance to check out one of the most anticipated hotel openings of 2020, especially while cash rates are pretty affordable.
If you are interested in seeing what it’s like inside the newest hotel near Disney World, here are five things to know about the JW Marriott Bonnet Creek.
Some hotels in the Disney area are convenient or family-friendly, but not necessarily upscale. This isn’t one of those. If you appreciate a lush hotel room at the end of a long day as much as I do, know this is the real deal.
The JW Marriott Bonnet Creek is a high-end hotel that would absolutely be a $500+ per night deluxe Disney resort if it was an official Disney resort property. It is unquestionably “nicer” than most of the true Disney resorts — and the bed was truly divine.
There is a full list of amenities ranging from a spa, to valet parking, a fully stocked gym, multiple pools and several on-site restaurants (well, once they are all open). But — at least for now — the price is more in line with a moderate Disney resort with prices often in the $200 to $250 per night range, plus a $35 nightly resort fee.
The nightly resort fee is a total bummer, but if it helps, there are actual resort amenities available we’ll get to in a minute (plus two glasses of Champagne).
The cheapest rate when I booked was one that conveyed both a $25 nightly credit and included self-parking, but otherwise, parking would have been an additional $39 per day. That may be more painful than the resort fee if you have to pay it. Keep an eye out for that rate package where it’s included if you’re paying cash in the near-term.
Using Marriott points, the hotel is 40,000 to 60,000 points per night, just like the nearby Disney Swan and Dolphin. On nights priced at 50,000 points per night or less, you could use a Marriott up to 50,000-point certificate available annually from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
Just an included shuttle ride away from the parks
Part of the resort fee inclusions are shuttle bus rides to the Disney theme parks and Disney Springs. Right now, the schedule is decreased from what it may eventually be due to COVID-19. On my stay, there were two departures in each direction per day to the parks. You could easily reserve your preferred departure time on the hotel’s website, which you can access by scanning a QR code.
The Bonnet Creek area, where you’ll find the JW Marriott, is as close to Disney property without being on Disney property.
However, unlike several other Bonnet Creek area hotels, the JW Marriott Bonnet Creek does not currently offer Disney perks beyond the hotel’s shuttle.
This doesn’t actually matter right now as Extra Magic Hours and 60-day FastPass+ bookings you get at a handful of hotels with Disney arrangements are irrelevant as they don’t exist for anyone (a temporary measure due to coronavirus). However, whenever the parks bring back those extra hours and FastPass+, it will be important to note that right now this hotel does not offer those the way the Swan and Dolphin and a few other area hotels convey. It’s also possible the hotel will eventually make a deal with Disney and offer those benefits when they return.
Use Marriott elite perks
If you have Marriott Platinum or Titanium elite perks as I do, you can put them to good use at the JW. In addition to an opportunity to use late check-out, one of my suite night awards cleared us from a standard room into a true one-bedroom executive suite with one-and-a-half bathrooms several days before check-in.
This room sells for at least double what my standard room cost, so it was a real treat. The hotel also has two-bedroom family suites that utilize bunk beds for the second room.
If you choose the breakfast benefit, you currently have two dining choices. My Marriott Platinum perks translated to either $12 per person (max of $24 per room) at the grab-and-go market in the lobby or a larger credit (I think it was $22 for up to two people) at the sit-down restaurant.
We opted for the $24 grab-and-go credit, which was quick, easy and distancing friendly. Unfortunately, this is where you will quickly be reminded you’re at a high-end hotel as a small breakfast assortment for an adult, a tween and a child was $52 before the $24 discount.
The breakfast sandwich alone was $14 pre-tax or tip, so I’d argue that a $12 credit per person isn’t quite enough given prices. The $6 muffins apparently hit the spot though and some credit is better than no credit.
Kids area and mini golf
Remember that $35 nightly resort fee? I’m sure you do, but know that it’ll sting a bit less if you use these pretty awesome amenities on the sixth floor. There’s a legit nine-hole miniature golf course that’s free to use — just make a reservation within the same site where you book the Disney transportation.
In that same location, there are also some outdoor games, a jungle gym and a rock-climbing wall. When evening fireworks eventually return at Disney World, I’d bet this is a great viewing spot.
Inside this sixth floor of fun, you’ll find a kids club play area stocked with toys and books. Currently, it seemed to only be available for use under parental supervision, but perhaps one day it will be a place for kids to play under staff supervision while parents visit the spa or restaurant.
Pools and cabanas
The JW Marriott Bonnet Creek isn’t just for kids and families. There’s an adult pool, too, which is something you aren’t going to find at true Disney World hotels.
An outdoor bar area separates the family and adult pool, so don’t expect a true adult squeal-free oasis since there isn’t much space separating the two pools, but at least you should be safe from cannonball splashes. There was ample free seating available during our stay, but daybeds by the adult pool were technically available for $75/day.
The very large zero-entry family pool also had more than enough seating for the virtually zero people out by the pool that morning, but there were cabanas are available for $200/day.
This pool area doesn’t have a waterslide, lazy river or similar features you may find at Disney resorts or other area hotels, but instead, it echoed the same “quiet luxury” theme of the rest of the hotel. That said, the hotel’s press release says it has a splash area, but it must be somewhat tucked away as I didn’t encounter it on our stay.
Just a few extra notes if you are staying here in the near-term.
Room service is currently unavailable and dinner service was very limited. The only dinner option when we arrived was ordering from the lobby bar area either via to-go or for dining in the lounge tables in the bar. The service was excellent, but the menu was noticeably limited and a pricey way to feed a family.
Automatic nightly housekeeping is currently paused other than on your sixth night, though it did seem to indicate you could request some sort of servicing of the room if needed. We had a one-night stay, so I’m not sure what that would have entailed.
Face masks are required in the hotel, the TV remote was wrapped in plastic wrap and the website indicates that valet services have been suspended, though we didn’t try, so I can’t confirm. All in all, we felt safe and distanced throughout the course of our stay.
I loved our one-night stay at the new JW Marriott Bonnet Creek. I’m a sucker both for Disney World vacations and for new hotels where you can earn or use points — making this a perfect match.
While the JW is not where you would stay to be walking distance to the parks, or for a full in-your-face Disney vacation experience (try Disney’s Art of Animation for that), it is a fantastic, understated near-Disney option. I absolutely plan to return here for some portions of future Disney trips, especially when we need to use points or for when a dose of luxury is more important than full-Disney immersion.
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